How To Play PS5 Games On A PS4

How To Play PS5 Games On A PS4
Photo: Sony

New PlayStation 5 consoles are still impossible to find, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play PS5 games like Returnal and Ratchet & Clank. You just need a PlayStation 4. And a friend…with a PS5. Oh, yeah, and you’ll both need PS Plus subscriptions. And some patience. OK, it’s not exactly a breeze, but it is possible, thanks to recently expanded functionality for PlayStation’s “Share Play” feature.

What’s Share Play?

“Share Play,” first introduced for PlayStation 4 in 2014, essentially allows you to beam a game from your PlayStation onto a friend’s PlayStation. Your friend can then watch you play, take over the controller, or join a multiplayer session — even if they don’t own a copy of that particular game. There were some limitations at launch, like sub-optimal streaming resolutions and 60-minute session limits, but the general reaction was, “OK, preeetty cool”

From The Kotaku Archives: PS4’s New Share Play Feature Actually Works

Fast-forward to April 2021: In that month’s PlayStation 5 update, Sony added cross-gen support for Share Play.

Nice! How’s it work?

First, both you (the happy PS5 owner) and your friend (the sad PS4 owner) need to be signed up for PS Plus. Sony also recommends a minimum connection speed of 2Mbps, but you’ll want something a bit higher — maybe in the realm of 5Mbps — to ensure a smoother, better-looking experience.

Start up a party chat with your friend. From there, hit the PS Button and click on the party chat display card. Click “start share screen” and select “start share play.” You should then see two options:

  • Play A Game With A Visitor: This option allows you to play a multiplayer game by, more or less, replicating the framework of local multiplayer between both of your PlayStations. The game must support this feature for it to work.
  • Visitor Plays As You: Basically, you “pass” your controller to the other player. They can play (via video streaming) any game from your PS5 console as if it were in their living room, albeit with your account. Think of it this way: You’ve brought your console over to their house, except through the powers of the internet, rather than by actually lugging the thing all the way there.

Easy as that.

Are there limitations?

Yes. Chiefly, if the game you want to share isn’t available via PlayStation Store in your friend’s geographical region, you won’t be able to share that game with them. In other words, no matter where you are in the universe, you won’t be able to Share Play Cyberpunk 2077 (well, between now and its imminent reinstatement on the PlayStation Store). You can also only activate Share Play with one person at a time. And that 60-minute session window remains in effect, though you can just start up another session once it ends.

Of course, there’s an easy way to side-step these restrictions. Just fall back on the oldest trick in the book, the proto-version of Share Play widely used by gamers since time immemorial: Just invite your friend over for some good ol’ couch gaming.

Log in to comment on this story!